Marketing Myopia

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Abstract

The article, “Marketing Myopia” written by Theodore Levitt, illustrates how businesses interact in their particular industry’s life cycles of growth, maturity and decline. One of the primary focal points of the article is that businesses must know their industry in regards to satisfying their specific customer’s needs. Identifying customer needs and meeting them, allows for continued growth of the company and industry. Recognizing the necessity to satisfy customer’s needs rather than merely selling products will establish an innovative company with continued growth and profits.

Key words: Marketing, satisfaction, myopia, industry

In the article, “Marketing Myopia”, Theodore Levitt, challenges all business leaders to “know what business you are really in?” (Levitt, 2004). The underlying assumption in his question measures the true engagement of the company’s management in being able to define their company’s purpose, thus, creating a foundation of vision and growth. One major responsibility of the company’s management is that it must create a customer centric culture within their firm. This can only be achieved by understanding the company’s purpose and identity within its industry (Corporate Marketing Myopia and the Inexorable Rise of a Corporate Marketing Logic, 2011). Marketing Myopia introduced one of the most influential marketing ideas of the century which states that businesses will do better in the end if they concentrate on meeting customer’s needs rather than on selling products (Levitt, 2004). Moreover, businesses traditionally resist innovation and change, keeping them from satisfying customer needs and ultimately shifting the company into the decline stage of their life cycle. Companies become product oriented instead of customer oriented (Levitt, 2004). By not defining their industry and purpose correctly, Theodore Levitt argues that companies endanger their future by creating competitive risks in their industry by entering into a self-deceiving cycle of bountiful expansion and undetected decay. To further illustrate his argument, this prose will discuss the four conditions that he believes stimulates the self-deceiving cycle. “The belief that growth is assured by an expanding and more affluent population, the belief that there is no competitive substitute for the industry’s major product, too much faith in mass production and in the advantages of rapidly declining unit costs as output rises, preoccupation with a product that lends itself to carefully controlled scientific experimentation, improvement, and manufacturing costs reduction” (Levitt, 2004). Four Conditions of Growth and Decay

The first belief that growth is assured by an expanding and more affluent population takes the apprehensions off the future (Levitt, 2004). This belief is built somewhat on false hope that as long as customer population size increase, so will their needs remain unchanged and not shift to other products or services. Companies find themselves in a state of complacency and false sense of reality, ignoring problems and not capitalizing on opportunities to meet changing consumer needs. For example, in the article, the petroleum industry is used to demonstrate this belief. The industry believes that the increase in population will stimulate growth. This belief has created a myopia perspective in which the oil companies are only focusing on oil exploration, oil production and oil refining (Levitt, 2004). The petroleum industry’s efforts have only focused on improving its original product, oil, and not defined its industry as a means of satisfying its customer’s “transportation” needs. By not satisfying the customer’s “true” transportation needs, the oil companies are allowing significant industry threats in the form of competition. For example, in the article, it discusses numerous products that have been introduced outside the oil industry such as gasoline and superior alternative...
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